Natasha Michael, a DA MP, sent this powerful, open letter to Lynne Brown, the Minister of Public Enterprises.
Dear Minister Brown
Thank you for your response. Your public commitment to provide the Portfolio Committee with information to help us in our oversight duties is duly noted and welcomed.
I therefore request that the following information be made available to the Portfolio Committee as a matter of urgency:
All maintenance records for the silos at Majuba power station, in particular the information relating to the quantity, quality and nature of coal stored in the silos. As you know, the use of wet coal would increase the risk of damage to silos. Given previous media reports detailing Eskom’s widespread use of wet coal, I believe this is a legitimate concern that should be directly addressed by your department.
All contracts relating to the construction of Medupi and Kusile power stations. We have long been denied access to this information. In the spirit of openness, accountability and constructive engagement with the opposition I would like to invite you to share all of this information with the committee.
Will you or Eskom provide details on who the principal contractors for Medupi and Kusile are?
All contractual agreements with the New Age, in particular relating to the sponsorship of New Age business breakfasts by Eskom.
In addition, I request that you respond to the other points I raised in recent communication to you:
- Will your department freeze executive pay at Eskom, currently totaling R60 million a year?
- Can you give us assurances that load shedding will not continue for the rest of the year?
- Will you rescind the R63 million sponsorship deal Eskom has signed with the New Age newspaper?
- Will you invite the Portfolio Committee to an urgent oversight visit of the Majuba power station?
- Will you or Eskom publicly explain the plan to ensure that no further blackouts take place this year?
Providing answers to these questions will greatly aid the Portfolio Committee in executing effective oversight over the many challenges facing your department.
The current situation at Eskom and other SOEs is damaging to our economy and to our international reputation and cannot continue along the current trajectory of continual bailouts and failure to deliver.
Power outages are jeopardising countless jobs, and it cannot be tolerated any longer. It is simply scandalous that our country has to face a crisis that could have been avoidable with proper planning and administration by those in power.
You raise a crucial point about investor confidence. I agree with you that the record of the current National Government, when laid out to any independent observer, is horrifying. This would go a long way to explaining why foreign investment into South Africa has dried up.
To explain what I mean, let me recount the story of an unnamed President of an unnamed country:
After having several hundred charges of corruption against him dropped on spurious grounds, this individual got elected as President. Since then, he has enriched himself, his family, his friends and his political connections with state money. They have feasted endlessly on government contracts, using their political connection to this unnamed individual to make billions in profits.
This unnamed President then unduly benefited to the tune of hundreds of millions in state resources in upgrades to his own private house, and has done everything possible to avoid repaying this benefit. He has undermined every independent institution, including Parliament, to avoid accountability for the money.
This unnamed President has, too, gone into hiding from the unnamed country’s Parliament, where he refuses to answer difficult questions from his unnamed opposition, just as he has gone into hiding from the Court’s where he is ever closer to finally having his day.
Interestingly, everyone in this unnamed country knows that its unnamed President is guilty. But he only remains in office, because he has been able to buy the loyalty of the state security cluster with patronage. His party is willing to undermine every institution of state meant to enforce accountability and transparency in order to protect this unnamed President. It is a remarkable story.
As you can imagine, the story of this unnamed President has made infinite international headlines, doing incalculable damage to the reputation of the unnamed country.
We must do everything we can to fix the problems at Eskom and other SOEs as soon as possible. I will continue to work within the parameters of my role in the Portfolio Committee to make this happen. I urge you to provide answers to the questions listed above so that we can get on with the work of fixing Eskom and the other SOEs in a transparent manner.
I eagerly await your reply and look forward to continuing this constructive engagement.
Natasha Michael MP